WP: Who has the honor to speak with us? State your name, rank, and occupation!
I'm Peter Moore, and I'm the president of EA Sports.
WP: We've seen a lot of games here today at the EA Sports Season Opener Media Day. One of the biggest changes for both EA and Microsoft is that you've got two titles that are download-only that clock in at 1.5 GB, which breaks all the prior Microsoft rules. With March Madness, you've taken a feature from a retail game, repackaged it and are selling it for a lower price. This is new territory for you. How did this come about?
PM: Well, I think there are two things. We shipped our packaged good product back in November of last year, and obviously, when you look at college basketball in particular, it really starts to get exciting as we get to the bracket, to the tournament that's coming up, to the 64 teams that are about to be named to the dance. We thought it was an opportune time to remind people what a great game it is that we shipped and also give people who determined they weren't going to buy the game an opportunity to get in with a reduced experience, albeit with 64 teams, for the reduced price of $15 or thereabouts. You know, potentially sample people so that when we ship in November of this coming year, they'd be more predisposed to buying the actual full game. It serves two purposes: It gives us extra revenue streams at the back end of the life cycle of the product, and it also allows us to do sampling to be able to encourage people to buy the new one that comes out.
WP: Are we seeing this more as an economy effect, where consumers are looking for cheaper games, or are we seeing this more as the iTunes effect, where digital downloads are becoming more accepted by the end user, and game companies like EA are starting to adopt that practice?
PM: It's probably somewhere in between. This is not about selling a cheaper game. This is about when sports has a particular moment in its cadence, in its rhythm, and in the case of college basketball, we feel we ship early because we need to, but college basketball is unique. They'll play for a long time, but really, the excitement begins when March hits. We're not going to delay shipping our game until March, so we do of course ship our game prior to the holidays, but we want to be able to encourage people to keep playing the game and secondly encourage people who haven't through basically price for a reduced version of the game, to sample the game, again with the view to go to GameStop or go to Best Buy or go to Wal-Mart in November of this coming year and buy the full game, NCAA March Madness '10.
WP: Switching over to the Wii and EA Active, we've seen workout games since the days of the original Nintendo, when the Power Pad had fitness games. Why do you think fitness games are taking off now? Why are they big business, and what brought EA to launch EA Active?
PM: Well, we looked at what we knew was going to happen with the Wii Fit. We looked at the ability for Nintendo, as a platform company, to drive a positioning of Nintendo Wii as a fitness product. We also looked at what we felt we could do better. The Wii Fit board requires you to be in contact with the board and thus limits you in what you can do basically from an aerobic or cardiovascular way, and so we believe that we enhance and complement what the Wii Fit board does. A lot of the exercises within the game itself are compatible with the Wii Fit board but bring in, if you will, a little more of a Western view of what fitness is: cardiovascular, aerobic, sweat a little bit, get your heart rate up, and focus on calorie burn and feeling good about yourself. That's what we felt was an opportunity, and we thought that the EA Sports brand plays very well there.
WP: Looking at more of an overall company strategy, with the current state of the economy, Activision has been talking about looking at acquiring both developers and titles. EA is one of Activision's main competitors. Are you in a similar state? Have you been out looking at acquisitions, or are you focusing more on internal development and building up the existing core brands from inside EA?
PM: We have a very strong balance sheet. We're always looking at opportunities to enhance what we do, whether that's through developers, intellectual property, or looking at technology that we can buy that is primarily online technology. In today's world, I think there are some bargains out there, and we're always looking at those, but ultimately, we're always looking, regardless of the economy. We've never been shy, as you saw with EGH and Jamdat. We've never been shy about making large acquisitions and utilizing our balance sheet for the good of our shareholders.
WP: The last question is more of a fun question. As many people probably know, you actually had a cameo in the old "House of the Dead" movie. Have you had a chance to play the new House of the Dead game for the Wii, and what do you think of it?
PM: I have not had a chance to play the new House of the Dead game, but I still live vicariously through my movie career — in the hills of Vancouver, one very wet night with Uwe Boll as the director, telling me 28 times in a row to get down in the mud. So no, I haven't played the new House of the Dead game. I still have Typing of the Dead, one of my favorite games of all time.